Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz visited with Bergen-Belsen survivor Esther Friedman Sunday as part of the project “Flower for a Survivor,” where IDF soldiers and officers meet with survivors on Holocaust Remembrance Day to hear their stories.
The meeting between the two had special significance, however, as Gantz’s mother, Malka Weiss de Gantz, was also a survivor of the Bergen-Belsen camp and was the one who saved Esther from certain death.
“I had typhus, and then they threw me on a mountain of bodies. Your mother, I have no idea where she got the strength, was the one who pulled me from the bodies and brought me to the British ambulance,” said Esther. “Thanks to Malka, I’m here today.”
“Some of the worst images of my life are from here. There were dead bodies everywhere, they didn’t even try removing them. You couldn’t walk anywhere without stepping on a body,” Friedman explained.
Together, Malka and Esther escaped to Switzerland, where they boarded the Chaim Arlozorov, a ship for illegal immigrants destined for the State, not yet declared, of Israel. “They made us get rid of all of our belongings—everything that we had. I walked for a long time in Cyprus without shoes,” says Esther. “Your mother always dreamed of having a son who would be a general,” she told Gantz.
Watch a video of Benny Gantz’s mother talk about her Holocaust Experience below: